This site uses cookies to measure how you use the website so it can be updated and improved based on your needs and also uses cookies to help remember the notifications you’ve seen, like this one, so that we don’t show them to you again. If you could also tell us a little bit about yourself, this information will help us understand how we can support you better and make this site even easier for you to use and navigate.

Can persons with dementia be engaged with stimuli?


Cohen-Mansfield, Jiska, Marx, Marcia S., Dakheel-Ali, Maha, Regier, Natalie G., Thein, Khin


The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume: 18, No.: 4, Pages.: 351-362

Year of Publication



Objectives: To determine which stimuli are 1) most engaging 2) most often refused by nursing home residents with dementia, and 3) most appropriate for persons who are more difficult to engage with stimuli. Methods: Participants were 193 residents of seven Maryland nursing homes. All participants had a diagnosis of dementia. Stimulus engagement was assessed by the Observational Measure of Engagement. Results: The most engaging stimuli were one-on-one socializing with a research assistant, a real baby, personalized stimuli based on the person’s self-identity, a lifelike doll, a respite video, and envelopes to stamp. Refusal of stimuli was higher among those with higher levels of cognitive function and related to the stimulus’ social appropriateness. Women showed more attention and had more positive attitudes for live social stimuli, simulated social stimuli, and artistic tasks than did men. Persons with comparatively higher levels of cognitive functioning were more likely to be engaged in manipulative and work tasks, whereas those with low levels of cognitive functioning spent relatively more time responding to social stimuli. The most effective stimuli did not differ for those most likely to be engaged and those least likely to be engaged. Conclusion: Nursing homes should consider both having engagement stimuli readily available to residents with dementia, and implementing a socialization schedule so that residents receive one-on-one interaction. Understanding the relationship among type of stimulus, cognitive function, and acceptance, attention, and attitude toward the stimuli can enable caregivers to maximize the desired benefit for persons with dementia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Bibtex Citation

@article{Cohen_Mansfield_2010, doi = {10.1097/jgp.0b013e3181c531fd}, url = {}, year = 2010, month = {apr}, publisher = {Elsevier {BV}}, volume = {18}, number = {4}, pages = {351--362}, author = {Jiska Cohen-Mansfield and Marcia S. Marx and Maha Dakheel-Ali and Natalie G. Regier and Khin Thein}, title = {Can Persons With Dementia Be Engaged With Stimuli?}, journal = {The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry} }


assistant, attendants institutions, baby, based, dementia, diagnosis, doll, engage, envelopes, including, lifelike, nursing home residents, nursing homes, of, on, oneonone, persons, range, real, research, respite, selfidentity, socializing, stamp, stimulation, stimuli, the, to, video, willingness, with

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cohort Study

Type of Outcomes



Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions